Women are no strangers to discussing their girlie bits -after all, they have childbirth, periods, smear tests and menopause to con end with. It’s no secret men’s sex drive wanes with time, but doctors warn against putting down changes in libido, sexual performance and toilet habits to the ageing process alone.Only 4 in 10 men speak to their partners about their physical or mental wellbeing. “Men are not very good at talking about their health, and, past 50, it’s often the hings men tend to be most embarrassed about that start to go wrong -things like erectile dysfunction, which is sadly often perceived as a ailure of masculinity ,“ says Dr Christian Jessen.
Creating a reassuring environment to discuss his health is key , so Dr Christian has a quirky tip on how to broach tough topics: “Wait until you’re in the car, and you’re in the driving seat. When you’re side-by-side in a car, it’s a nice way of legitimately avoiding eye contact and this can make an embarrassing subject less awkward.“
Your man might find it hard to talk about, but here are some simple ways you can help…
TESTOSTERONE DEFICIENCY SYNDROME
t Are you worried your man is hav ing an affair? Has he lost all inter est in sex, or go to great lengths to avoid intimacy? Is he irritable and , exhausted? Before you jump to , conclusions, consider whether he might be part of the 8% of over-50s who suffer from Testosterone Deficiency Syndrome (TDS).
“If you find yourself living with a grumpy old man who has lost his lust for life, there may be more to it,“ says Dr Christian.
Production of testosterone tails off over time, but TDS occurs t when this hormone drops to an unhealthy level. Symptoms include low libido, problems getting or maintaining an erection, hot flushes, and reduced body hair., How you can help If you suspect your partner is showing symptoms of this, it’s important to tackle the subject carefully . Some 13% of men worry , their partner might leave them if they found out they had TDS, so t make sure you reassure your man this isn’t the case. “TDS can impact on quality of life emotion i ally and physically, and can cause w wider problems if left untreated,“ t says Dr David Edwards. It’s easy to h treat with testosterone supple p mentation, so make your man a GP appointment pronto.
This is the most common form of cancer in men, with over 40,000 new cases being diagnosed each year. The prostate is a small gland in the rectum, which helps to produce sperm, and symptoms of the cancer include a frequent need to go to the loo, difficulty pass ing urine, feeling exhausted, rapid weight loss and lower-back pain -though these may also be signs of harmless enlargement of the prostate. “The vast majority of men who are diagnosed with prostate cancer will not die from the disease but early diagnosis is key to establish whether the cancer is aggressive or not,“ says Dr Rob Hicks.
Statistics show 1 in 8 men over 50 will get the disease, and, though survival rates are relatively high, one man every hour dies as a result.How you can help “Encourage your partner to see a doctor straight away -this is often the greatest hurdle,“ says Dr Rob. You can offer to attend an appointment together, or suggest he requests a male doctor. “Men think that because they’re regis tered with a female doctor, that’s who they have to see but this isn’t the case. A man may well feel uncomfortable discussing difficulties passing urine with a woman, and that’s fine.“
When younger men struggle to get things going in the bedroom, it can often be a case of performance jitters with a new partner. When you’ve been together for years, this is less likely to be the case. “In older men, erectile dysfunction can be an early sign of a serious problem such as raised blood pressure, diabetes, or an impending heart attack. It can be the wake-up call you need to sort your life out,“ says Dr Christian.
Discussing erection problems is likely to make men cringe, but it’s worth a moment of embarrassment at the doctors if it prevents a heart attack. “GPs deal with this every day . It’s almost guaranteed your partner won’t be the first person that day the doctor sees with that problem,“ says Dr Christian.How you can help Yet again, this is a subject that needs to be dealt with using an extra large dose of tact. “Often, men bury their heads in the sand by avoiding sex, causing their partner to worry there’s another woman on the scene. Encourage your partner to talk about the problems and reassure him the vast majority of men manage to overcome this problem,“ says Dr Rob.
If he is too embarrassed to bring up the subject with the doc, he could ask for a blood pressure check-up, and mention that high blood pressure can cause all sorts of issues -including problems in n the bedroom. “ A tuneds in doctor will pick up on e these clues and ask if s he’s having any par , ticular problems,“ n says Dr Rob.
MAKE A CHANGE
It might sound obvious, but a few key lifestyle changes can really impact on health.1. Work out Almost 50% of men believe pumping iron will help keep their testosterone levels up, and they’re right.Maintaining a healthy muscle mass encourages production of this hormone, though Dr Christian warns that TDS sufferers may need treatment first as they could be too lethargic to exercise.2. Lose weight Make sure your partner keeps his BMI below 25. Being overweight is a key cause of diabetes, which is heavily associated with TDS and erectile dysfunction. “You’d be surprised how many men lose weight and the problem goes away ,“ says Dr Rob.3. Stop smoking and drink less “Alcohol and smoking are top of the list for why things start to go wrong in the bedroom. They effect your general metabolism and hormone levels,“ says Dr Christian.